Berenice II was the daughter of Magas
Magas of Cyrene
Magas of Cyrene was a Greek Macedonian nobleman. Through his mother’s second marriage he was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty. He became King of Cyrenaica and he managed to wrestle independence for Cyrenaica from the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt.-Family Background & Early Life:Magas...
Cyrene was an ancient Greek colony and then a Roman city in present-day Shahhat, Libya, the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities in the region. It gave eastern Libya the classical name Cyrenaica that it has retained to modern times.Cyrene lies in a lush valley in the Jebel Akhdar...
and Queen Apama II
For other uses of this name see, Apama Apama II , sometimes known as Apame II was a Syrian Greek Princess of the Seleucid Empire and through marriage was a Queen of Cyrenaica.Apama II was of Greek Macedonian and Persian descent...
, and the wife of Ptolemy III Euergetes
Ptolemy III Euergetes
-Family:Euergetes was the eldest son of Ptolemy II Philadelphus and his first wife, Arsinoe I, and came to power in 246 BC upon the death of his father.He married Berenice of Cyrene in the year corresponding to 244/243 BC; and their children were:...
, the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty
The Ptolemaic dynasty, was a Macedonian Greek royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC...
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...
In about 249 BC, she was married to Demetrius the Fair
Demetrius the Fair
For the similarly named Macedonian ruler, see Demetrius II of Macedon.Demetrius the Fair or surnamed The Handsome , also known in modern ancient historical sources as Demetrius of Cyrene, was a Hellenistic king of Cyrene.-Family:Demetrius was of Greek Macedonian descent...
, a Macedonian prince, soon after her father died. However after coming to Cyrene he became the lover of her mother Apama. In a dramatic event, she had him killed in Apama's bedroom, but Apama lived on afterwards. She had no children with Demetrius.
Afterwards she married Ptolemy III. Their children were: Ptolemy IV Philopator
Ptolemy IV Philopator
Ptolemy IV Philopator , son of Ptolemy III and Berenice II of Egypt was the fourth Pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt...
Magas of Egypt
Magas was a grandson of Magas of Cyrene, being a son of Ptolemy Euergetes and Berenice...
, Lysimachus, Alexander, Arsinoe III and Berenice.
Berenice is said to have participated in the Nemean Games (between 245 and 241 BC) and to have competed in Olympic games at some unknown date.
Soon after her husband's death (221 BC) she was murdered at the instigation of her son Ptolemy IV, with whom she was probably associated in the government.
MythsDuring her husband's absence on an expedition to Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....
, she dedicated her hair to Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....
for his safe return, and placed it in the temple of the goddess at Zephyrium. The hair having by some unknown means disappeared, Conon of Samos
Conon of Samos
Conon of Samos was a Greek astronomer and mathematician. He is primarily remembered for naming the constellation Coma Berenices.-Life and work:...
explained the phenomenon in courtly phrase, by saying that it had been carried to the heavens and placed among the stars. This story is parodied in Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...
's The Rape of the Lock
The Rape of the Lock
The Rape of the Lock is a mock-heroic narrative poem written by Alexander Pope, first published anonymously in Lintot's Miscellany in May 1712 in two cantos , but then revised, expanded and reissued under Pope's name on March 2, 1714, in a much-expanded 5-canto version...
. The name Coma Berenices
Coma Berenices is a traditional asterism that has since been defined as one of the 88 modern constellations. It is located near Leo, to which it formerly belonged, and accommodates the North Galactic Pole...
or Berenice's hair, applied to a constellation
In modern astronomy, a constellation is an internationally defined area of the celestial sphere. These areas are grouped around asterisms, patterns formed by prominent stars within apparent proximity to one another on Earth's night sky....
, commemorates this incident. Callimachus
Callimachus was a native of the Greek colony of Cyrene, Libya. He was a noted poet, critic and scholar at the Library of Alexandria and enjoyed the patronage of the Egyptian–Greek Pharaohs Ptolemy II Philadelphus and Ptolemy III Euergetes...
celebrated the transformation in a poem, of which only a few lines remain, but there is a fine translation of it by Catullus
Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the Republican period. His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.-Biography:...
The predecessor of the modern city Benghazi
Benghazi is the second largest city in Libya, the main city of the Cyrenaica region , and the former provisional capital of the National Transitional Council. The wider metropolitan area is also a district of Libya...
was refounded by her and received her name: Berenice. The asteroid 653 Berenike
653 Berenike is a main-belt asteroid discovered on November 27, 1907 by Joel Hastings Metcalf at Taunton, Massachusetts. It is named after Berenice II of Egypt, after whom the constellation Coma Berenices is also named.- References :...
, discovered in 1907, is also named after Queen Berenice.